HERO Program

The HERO Program helps WSDOT educate HOV and HOT lane violators and ferry line cutters on the purpose, rules, and benefits of these freeway lanes and ferry lines. We started the program in 1984 as a way to encourage drivers to self-enforce HOV lane rules. It is now a nationally recognized program which has served as a role model for similar programs in other states. We expanded the program to include ferries in 2010.

How the HERO Program works

Drivers can report HOV, HOT lane or ferry line violators online or by calling at 1-877-764-HERO. We will then mail educational materials about HOV, HOT lane and ferry line usage to the registered owner of the vehicle that was seen violating.

First-time HOV lane violators are sent an educational brochure. Second-time HOV lane violators are sent a letter from WSDOT. Third-time HOV lane violators are sent a letter from the Washington State Patrol.

If a law enforcement officer sees you, there is a possible fine of $136 and a possible moving violation on your driving record.

First time ferry line violators are sent a letter from the Washington State Ferries. Second-time ferry line violators are send a letter from the Washington State Patrol.

Drivers who feel they have been mistakenly reported can fill out an online dispute violation form or call 1-877-764-HERO.

How the HERO program works with HOT lanes on SR 167 and Express Toll Lanes on I-405

Solo drivers can use both the SR 167 HOT lanes and I-405 express toll lanes without having additional passengers in their car as long as they’re following the requirements to pay a toll.

What the numbers look like


Violation Reports and Outreach, 2016 - 2017
 
Total number of license plate numbers reported to HERO 51,710
Total number of brochures mailed to drivers 26,753
Total number of letters mailed to drivers 433
Average number of monthly phone calls to HERO 1,091
Average number of monthly online reports to HERO 1,359

Above numbers are from January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2016


Violation Rates
 
National average Between 10 and 15 percent
WA average Between 1 and 7 percent
Repeat offenders Less than 5 percent

 

Targeted Enforcement Based on Your Reports

The HERO Program helps us make the most of limited law enforcement resources. When large numbers of cheaters are reported at specific locations, we share the information with the Washington State Patrol to help them target enforcement emphasis. These are the current hot spots where we have received a high number of violation reports:

Current Hot Spots
 
Highway Location Direction
I-5 NE 175th Street (ramps) North and southbound
I-5 Reversible Express Lanes North and southbound
I-405 Downtown Bellevue North and southbound
I-405 Totem Lake North and southbound
I-405 Between SR 167 and I-90 North and southbound
SR 509 1st Avenue Bridge North and southbound
SR 520 At 84th and 92nd Avenues NE East and westbound
SR 520 Montlake Blvd. E East and westbound

 

Citations Issued by Washington State Patrol
 

HOV Violation Citations 2016 2017
Warnings 4,021 5,042
Tickets 10,072 9,729

 

How the HERO Program works with Washington State Ferries
 

Drivers are expected to get into the ferry line at the end of the line. Drivers who use side streets to cut into an existing ferry line are violating the law.

A concerned driver can call in a potential violator through the HERO Program if they see a car cutting into a ferry line.

Our current focus includes Clinton, Mukilteo, Kingston and Edmonds ferry terminals. But we will accept reports from all ferry terminals.

Here are the numbers by the seasons for 2014.

 

Ferry line cutters
 

  Spring March-May Summer June-August Fall
September-November
Winter
December-February
Mukilteo 122 231 117 53
Clinton 33 56 27 2
Edmonds 20 52 30 15
Kingston 8 31 10 3

 

How can I get more information?

For more information about the HERO Program, see the HERO Common Questions page or contact us at HEROHOV@wsdot.wa.gov.